Posted by MrObson on 8 January, 2009 at 9:19 am. 12 comments already!

Nancy Kanwisher has an interesting post where she measures who broke the ‘lull’ in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

She presents charts showing who killed first after a lull of various lengths duration. Of course Israel has killed first in the majority of cases.

She claims:

The lessons from these data are clear:

First, Hamas can indeed control the rockets, when it is in their interest. The data shows that ceasefires can work, reducing the violence to nearly zero for months at a time.

In fact, it does NOT prove that “Hamas can control the rockets”. Her statistics include NO measure of rocket fire. Saying they prove something not measured and not directly related is dishonest.

She also claims the result was violence reduced to zero. Again the classic case of misdirection – present believable statistics about A and then conclude totally unrelated B. DEATHs might have been reduced to zero, but rocket attacks and homicide bombs certainly constitute violence, even if no one dies.


I challenge Nancy to compile a similar chart based upon “attack” rather than “kills”. I suspect that : a) there will be much fewer or no ‘lulls’; b) you will see a complete reversal of her 80/20. And Nancy, since you will have the data anyway, go ahead and indicate on a daily basis, exactly which party attacked the other. Lets see a count of how many days Hamas attacked Israel and how many days Israelattacked Hamas. This would show who is the aggressor, who is starting the fight.

Again, you will see Hamas on the attack MUCH more frequently than Israel and Israel turning the other cheek most days.

Just like in the current escalation, Hamas is simply not as good at killing their opponent. It is not from lack of trying. They WANT to kill. They TRY to kill. They PRAY to be able to kill. But they are incompetent. Once Israel finally gets tired of ducking rockets and fights back, they DO kill their opponent.

So yes, I believe your measure that Israel ‘kills’ first, but think that your conclusion is erroneous and not at all supported by your evidence. Your premise (only a death breaks a truce) is likewise flawed.

But I would love to see you try again!

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